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UE Urges GE
To Increase Retiree Pensions


UE Genl. Pres. John H. Hovis
UE Genl. Pres. John H. Hovis

John Hovis, the union’s national president, made a holiday appeal to General Electric for an immediate and substantial increase in the pension benefits received by the company’s retired workers. Hovis also called on GE to substantially increase the minimum pension multiplier.

GE retirees have not seen a pension adjustment since November 1996, Hovis noted in his letter to the company. That modest raise did not apply to those who retired after June 1, 1994, who have endured price increases of up to 13.6 percent since they began collecting their pensions.

"Living on fixed incomes as they do, GE retirees can ill-afford such a loss of purchasing power," Hovis wrote. "Nor does the overall inflation rate adequately reflect the sharp increases GE retirees have endured in their living expenses."

This loss of purchasing power, the union president said, "weighs particularly heavily on those many thousands of GE retirees who are existing on pension multipliers in the range of $10.50 to $20 a month per years of service. The average pension of this group comes to $100 a week. Many surviving spouses are faring even worse."


The union president, who will lead the UE negotiating committee in national bargaining with the company in May, noted the contrast between the pensioners’ plight and the exponential growth in the GE pension fund’s assets and level of overfunding. "As of last year the plan was 58 percent overfunded (up from 31 percent in just three years). Each year the growth in assets substantially exceeds any increases in projected obligations. We expect that when the 1999 figures are released the overfunding will be in the neighborhood of $20 billion. No other company that we are aware of comes anywhere near this staggering number."

Hovis reminded company officials that "The plan exists solely for the benefit of its participants, retirees and beneficiaries. It does not exist to fatten GE’s earnings statement and therefore its stock price through the use of accounting gimmicks.

"GE would also do well to remember that the efforts of its many thousands of retirees in large measure account for the company’s current unprecedented level of prosperity," Hovis declared.

Hiding behind a Supreme Court decision, GE refuses to recognize the union’s right to bargain on behalf of retirees, who have been repeatedly forced to demonstrate to demand pension adjustments.

UE News - 02/00

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